Archive for March, 2019

Shale boom cuts price of gas to record low

Sunday, March 31st, 2019

Prices turn negative as booming shale oilfields lead to glut of natural gas

Shale boom means they cannot give gas away in

Sunday, March 31st, 2019

Prices turn negative as booming shale oilfields lead to glut of natural gas

UPshow Helps Businesses Use TV Screens on Site to Build Their Brands

Sunday, March 31st, 2019

UPshow Social Engagement Platform Combines Customers’ Love of TV and Mobile

Are TVs inside your business crucial?

If you’re a sports bar, obviously you’ll say flat screens on the wall are 100% crucial to business. But at gyms, screens seem to exist so that members can zone out as they work out. And owners of medical and dental practices might think TVs in waiting rooms are best at keeping “impatient patients” calm.

While clearly different, the use cases mentioned above treat TV screens in a very basic way. You might even wonder if those TVs are “underutilized”, or not living up to their potential. Thinking outside the box (or flat screen, in this case) isn’t something every business owner is good at. And if you don’t know the right questions to ask, or the latest innovation trends to watch, chances are you’re going to stay very vanilla. Because you’re unaware of what’s possible and what other businesses are doing.

You can Miss Opportunities if you Play it Too Safe

Then what are forward-thinking businesses currently doing with smart TVs? What are they improving and how? What are they phasing out? Basketball Hall of Famer Mike Krzyzewski puts it this way. Don’t worry what you’ve just done or whatever choices you’ve made. Good or bad, they don’t match the important of what you’re doing right now. And what play comes next. Okay then, what trend comes next?

Small Business Trends posed that question to Adam Hirsen, the CEO and co-founder of UPshow. The company launched as a small brand in Chicago in late 2015. Hirsen let us see his TV-centric social engagement product while in New York City, at Buffalo Wild Wings. The business is an UPshow client.

UPshow Social Engagement Platform

UPshow transforms how brick and mortar businesses leverage their TVs and consumers’ smartphones to enhance engagement, drive sales, marketing and more. Powering more than 4,500 locations with 12,000+ active TV screens, their client list includes Crunch Fitness, UFC Gyms, Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, Sky Zone, and more. They recently secured $6 million in Series A funding led by TDF Ventures and Jump Capital, and rang the NASDAQ bell in New York as a winner in the Chicago Innovation Awards.

* * * * *

Small Business Trends: What’s the purpose of UPshow?

Adam Hirsen: We’re an in-venue engagement platform that connects the big screen TVs inside of venues to the small screens in everyone’s pocket. We engage customers with modern entertainment and interactive media, and pair that with promotional marketing.

Small Business Trends: Oh, okay, you mean smartphones. I happen to love them. And I know brands love them for data. What’s your stance on old-school marketing methods and traditional CX?

Adam Hirsen: Everywhere you go today, whether it’s Buffalo Wild Wings or a fitness venue, you’re going to be struck with paper marketing which is static and ignored, and also broadcast television. The challenge there is, broadcast television doesn’t add all that much value to a brand, and sometimes it’ll even advertise a national competitor. UPshow helps our partners take control of the experience and market what’s important to build loyalty with their customers and also offer live, interactive and modern media of the venue’s choosing. If you’re a New York Yankees bar, you’ll serve Yankee-centric content, content that aligns with what you’re trying to grow. Each venue lets us know which parts of their marketing and analytics they wish to improve, and our success team teaches the client exactly how they can do that with UPshow, whether it’s getting more sign-ups to their loyalty initiatives or getting a deeper understanding of which specific social media users tweet at them. There’s so much that can be done with UPshow.

What the Business Offers

UPshow Social Engagement Platform Combines Customers’ Love of TV and Mobile

Small Business Trends: Is installation complicated? Standing here [inside Buffalo Wild Wings Times Square] and looking at all this, it’s very impressive and visually striking, but it makes me think the set-up might overwhelm someone who isn’t tech-savvy.

Adam Hirsen: It’s all simple, actually! Everything’s done through Google Chromebit, which is a slim HDMI stick, and wifi. Our success team makes sure that installation is plug-and-play and goes smoothly; and then once a client is up and running, we make sure they’re getting the most out of UPshow’s front-end and back-end capabilities to not only deliver great experiences for customers but to improve and track what’s important for the business end. Those business goals are defined by the client.

Markets the Company Serves

Small Business Trends: Which sectors do you currently focus on?

Adam Hirsen: Hospitality is big for us, as well as fitness, entertainment and healthcare venues.

Small Business Trends: Because the visual pieces are a huge part of what UPshow does, where can potential clients see it in-person?

Adam Hirsen: Trade shows are huge for us. We go to MUFSO, we go to National Restaurant, we have people at the Nightclub & Bar Show this week in Las Vegas, we go to the Digital Signage Expo, etc… Because it’s a visual product, [examples can be found here and here] it really helps to be able to stand with the customer and show them what it’s like.

Images: UPshow.TV

This article, “UPshow Helps Businesses Use TV Screens on Site to Build Their Brands” was first published on Small Business Trends

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75% of IT Pros Lack Confidence Managing Future Tech Innovations for Businesses

Sunday, March 31st, 2019

75% of IT Pros Lack Confidence Managing Future Tech Innovations for Businesses - Is IT Upskilling the Answer?

Guess what. Your IT team may lack the confidence necessary to handle the next major innovation needed for your business to compete. And small businesses may find themselves most at risk of being unable to upgrade systems to stay competitive.

The new SolarWinds IT Trends Report 2019: Skills for Tech Pros of Tomorrow reveals the scary figures. Today’s tech professionals have reached a crisis point. A reported 75% of the tech pros in the survey said they lack confidence managing future innovations.

According to SolarWinds, businesses who hire these professionals run the risk of performance and competitive advantage losses. And small businesses run the greatest risk without the resources to overcome these losses.

So the report projects hiring qualified talent will become more expensive. Because fewer individuals possess the ability to implement and manage future innovations.

SolarWinds says the problem relates to tech pros lacking time for upskilling. “The urgency of day-to-day tasks often impedes their ability to participate in learning sessions they find most valuable, like full-day courses, self-guided trainings, or webinars,” the report explains.

The Survey

The data for this year’s North American report comes from a survey carried out in the US and Canada in December 2018. Respondents in the survey included 307 technology practitioners, managers, and directors. And these professionals represented public-and private-sector small, mid-size, and enterprise companies.

The report also studied other regions around the world including Australia, Germany, Hong Kong, Singapore, and the United Kingdom. A total of 966 respondents took part in the survey across all regions.

Confidence by Technology Professionals

The initial finding that 3 out of 4 tech pros aren’t “completely confident” in handling innovation over the next three to five years seems alarming enough.

But the report also indicates 99% of the tech pros have worked to develop a skill over the past 12 months. So, many lack confidence even after trying to improve their technical skills.

The data points pack to another study carried out by SolarWinds MSP and the 2112 Group. In that report, only about 1 in 4 partners felt they possessed expert level managed service skills. And a whopping 65% of the respondents claimed to possess only basic managed service skills.

The lack of confidence exists across the board in small, mid-sized and enterprise businesses. For example, 35% of small business tech pros reported completely unconfident in their ability to manage future changes. For mid-sized businesses the number dropped to 34%. And enterprise businesses fared better at just 31%.

What About the Technologies?

When it comes to the technologies the pros feel unequipped to manage their current skillset, they are the ones which are on the verge of breaking through for wider adoption.

More than half or 51% of the pros said artificial intelligence was first, followed by machine and/or deep learning at 45%, and blockchain at 34%.

As to the technologies which are essential for the day to day operations of their current situation, data sciences are in the forefront. In the past 12 months the skills the tech pros have prioritized are systems and infrastructure management (46%), cloud and/or hybrid IT (44%), and security management (39%).

Along this path, they also plan to develop skillsets which will be important in the transformation of their organization over the next three to five years. The top two skillsets are security management (49%) and hybrid IT deployment monitoring and management (48%).

Solutions: IT Upskilling and More

One of the problems tech pros have is their day-to-day IT tasks take time from career development. This was the case for 83% of the respondents, with 28% saying this always happens.

Considering tech pros are extremely proactive in upskilling, businesses should make a concerted effort to ensure they have the time need to make it happen.

SolarWinds also recommends for tech pros to collaborate more. Adding, it is now more important than ever to embrace collaboration and work with other teams.

It goes on to say, “This holds true when it comes to knowledge sharing, as well. A portion of tech pros around the world prefer to receive trainings primarily from colleagues, and so it’s important to remember that knowledge gained could and should be shared amongst peers for the greater good.”

At the end of the day this is a symbiotic relationship, when tech professionals have the necessary skills, it benefits the business and the pro.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, “75% of IT Pros Lack Confidence Managing Future Tech Innovations for Businesses” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Raising Awareness of Cybersecurity Offers a Great Small Business Niche, Study Shows

Sunday, March 31st, 2019

Fight Cybersecurity Complacency With These Basic steps to protect your data

A new survey from LexingtonLaw has revealed a startling outcome about data breach. According to the report, 56% of Americans have never checked to see if they have been affected by a data breach.

Considering all the reports about data breaches in the news, this piece of data is quite a revelation. But as LexingtonLaw says in the report, “Many Americans are lost when it comes to data breaches.”

For small business owners, this is a great opportunity to inform customers about the importance of data security. Sharing the dangers they face in today’s digital ecosystem can be a value-added service with many benefits.

As the report points out, the biggest problem is not knowing what to do. The key findings of the survey have three major points which highlight the lack of knowledge currently taking place.

  • A majority of Americans have never checked if they’ve been affected by a data breach
  • 1 in 5 people have checked for a breach within the last month
  • 66% don’t know what to check if a breach occurs

If you don’t check for any data breaches and don’t know what to check, it compounds the problem. For hackers, this kind of complacency is the ideal scenario for committing long-term credit frauds.

Survey Results

LexingtonLaw reports since 2013 there have been more than 13.4 billion data records lost or stolen. Whether it was the 500 million people who had the information exposed in the Marriot breach or the countless others, the problem and news is hard to avoid.

Yet, a large percentage of Americans across the board have never checked for a data breach. This includes 69% of tech-savvy 18 to 24-year-olds who have never checked.

Fight Cybersecurity Complacency With These Basic steps to protect your data

The number gets slightly better for other groups, but it is still very high. It goes down to 59% for those between 25 to 34 years of age, and just one percent lower at 58% for 35-44-year olds.

Surprisingly, older Americans are 50% more likely to have checked for a data breach at some point compared to all other age groups.

Not Knowing What to Do

The biggest challenge for individuals, as well as small businesses, is not knowing what to do during a data breach. With so many data breaches taking place, checking each one can be a daunting task.

In the survey, 66% said they don’t know what to check if a data breach takes place. Again, 18 to 24-year-olds are least likely to know what to check.

Birth certificates, Social Security numbers, passport numbers, credit card numbers, and email addresses are some of the information criminals seek out. When vitally important personal information is compromised, the damage can be catastrophic and very difficult to overcome.

The impact, as LexingtonLaw says, can be huge on your life.

Fight Cybersecurity Complacency With These Basic Steps to Protect your Data

Protecting your personal data requires a proactive effort on your part. Being complacent makes you a perfect target for hackers who are scouring the Internet 24/7 for victims.

Start by signing up for a credit monitoring service. The three reporting agencies provide a service, but you can also choose third-party solutions. But don’t rely on them alone.

Check your credit at least twice per year, the more the better.

In addition to your credit history, secure all your computing devices at home and in your workplace. Make sure to have the latest update for all of your software, including anti-virus and malware protection.

As more of the things in your life become connected (TVs, cars, homes, etc.) make sure they don’t become a gateway for an attack too.

The best recommendation is to seek the advice of a professional to ensure you are fully protected. There is a clear and present danger, but there is also much you can do to protect yourself, loved ones and business.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, “Raising Awareness of Cybersecurity Offers a Great Small Business Niche, Study Shows” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Testing the water: asbestos in old pipes raises a call for action

Sunday, March 31st, 2019

Residents of one English village are pushing for an overhaul of the mains network and more research into the health implications

This Event is for Women Entrepreneurs Only

Saturday, March 30th, 2019

The number of women-owned businesses has risen in recent years, but they still face challenges. Overcome them with these tips for women entrepreneurs.

Sorry guys, this is for women entrepreneurs only.

Beachpreneurs Beach Camp 5 is going to be held in Daytona Beach, Florida to teach women entrepreneurs how to optimize their business to create a lifestyle they’ll love.

As the event hosts said, “You CAN create an income that isn’t 100% dependent on your time.”

Beachpreneurs Co-Founders Nicole Dean and Kelly McCausey are the hosts of the event. And they have held 8 Beach House Retreats and 5 Beach Camp Hotel Events.

Women across a range of expertise will speak during the three-day event. They will discuss social media, customer acquisition, improving communication and productivity, passive income and much more.

In addition to the speakers adviser will also lead topic tables.

Don’t miss this event in sunny Daytona Beach from April 12-14, 2019. Click the red button and register now.

Register Now



Featured Events, Contests and Awards

Elevate Your Digital InfluenceElevate Your Digital Influence
April 13, 2019, Issaquah, Wash.

Are you ready to grow your business? Join us and learn how to put together a PR plan and leverage what you are doing on social to grow your level of influence. Are you ready to be a leader in your marketplace? #ElevateYourDigitalInfluence


Listening to the Voice of the Customer WorkshopListening to the Voice of the Customer Workshop
April 23, 2019, Boston, Mass.

Join Applied Marketing Science (AMS) for the next open-enrollment session of “Listening to the Voice of the Customer,” our acclaimed training workshop, on April 23-24, 2019 at the Sheraton Boston Hotel located in the heart of downtown Boston. Led by veteran product development and market research experts, Gerry Katz (AMS Vice Chairman), and John Burns (AMS Principal), this course will introduce Voice of the Customer market research and teach you to use it to accelerate innovation in business-to-business markets.
Discount Code
SMALLBIZ ($100 Discount)


Beachpreneurs Beach Camp 5Beachpreneurs Beach Camp 5
April 26, 2019, Daytona Beach, Fla.

For starters, we’re for Women Entrepreneurs only. During Beach Camp, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to learn, apply and mastermind with warm successful women.
You’ll also have time to sleep in and you’ll get long breaks to relax and walk the beach or go for a swim. We didn’t create a conference at the beach just to lock you away in a conference room from dawn til dusk. Beach Camp is a lifestyle focused event so you’ll be spending as much time enjoying your life as you will be focusing on your business. Join us today!


Listening to the Voice of the Customer Listening to the Voice of the Customer
October 16, 2019, Chicago, Ill.

Led by veteran product development and market research experts, this course will introduce Voice of the Customer (VOC) market research and teach you to use it to accelerate innovation in business-to-business markets. The workshop uses a lively, interactive format with numerous hands-on activities and practice exercises to build skills and will also expose you to the latest applications of these techniques in areas such as machine learning and journey mapping.
Discount Code
SMALLBIZ ($100 Off)


More Events

More Contests

This weekly listing of small business events, contests and awards is provided as a community service by Small Business Trends.

You can see a full list of events, contest and award listings or post your own events by visiting the Small Business Events Calendar.
Image: Shutterstock

This article, “This Event is for Women Entrepreneurs Only” was first published on Small Business Trends

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10 Tips for Growing Your Business with Technology and Talent

Saturday, March 30th, 2019

Small business owners wear so many hats. So it’s essential to use tools and resources to help you streamline and increase efficiency. And you’ll need marketing platforms to productivity tools to help. Make growing your small business toolkit an ongoing process. Check out these thoughts and tips from members of the online small business community.

Grow Your Presence on Twitter

Twitter looms large on the digital landscape. But many businesses still struggle to really make effective use of it. You need to create a Twitter presence that actually gets results. Check out this post on the Promo blog by Jonathan Nunez for tips.

Try Affiliate Marketing for Small Business

Affiliate marketing becomes an incredibly useful tool for businesses. But few small brands take advantage of it to its full potential. Read this 3Bug Media post and watch the video. Gary Shouldis elaborates on the concept of affiliate marketing and goes over how small businesses can make the most of this concept.

Don’t Overlook These Important SEO Trends

If your SEO strategy only involves looking at Google’s latest update and integrating a few keyword tricks into your site, you’re probably not getting a ton of search traffic. There are some deeper concepts at play that can have a much bigger impact on your ranking, as Ronny Dsouja details in this Pixel Productions post. You can also see what BizSugar members are saying about the post here.

Influence Customer Decisions Without Ads

Advertising can certainly be an effective way to get customers’ attention. But it isn’t the only method you should consider. In this Process Street post, Ben Mulholland discusses the nudge theory to help businesses influence decisions even when you don’t want to spend money on advertising.

Consider Voice Search and Digital Assistants in Your Search Strategy

Voice search and digital assistants are everywhere in 2019. So if they’re not accounted for in your search strategy, you could really be missing out on traffic and visibility. Read this Search Engine Land post for a beginner’s guide to these two concepts.

Grow Your Business with These Helpful Resources

No entrepreneur can grow a business without a little help. Even if you’re a solopreneur, you need to have tools and resources that are able to support your efforts in some way. In this Smallbiztechnology.com post, Megan Totka lays out three areas where you should invest in your business to spur future growth.

Find the Right Software Development for Your Business

Software can be a major asset to any company. But if you’re having a custom program developed, you need to be very confident in the skills and vision of your team. Here are some things to look for throughout the software development, courtesy of Ivan Widjaya of Biz Epic.

Don’t Miss Out on Blogging for Your Creative Business

Much has been made about the death of blogging. However, there’s still an argument to be made that it is a must for small businesses — especially those in creative fields. Becca Ellison makes that argument in this DIY Marketers post.

Let Testimonials Do the Talking for You

You can tell potential customers about how great your business is all you want — not all of them are going to believe you. In fact, they’re much more likely to believe past customers who share their experiences. That’s why testimonials are so important, according to David Leonhardt in this Socialnomics post. The BizSugar members shared thoughts on the post here.

Win Big with Social Media Ads

One of the most appealing things about social media marketing is that it’s free to use. But investing a bit of money into those platforms has the potential to increase your reach significantly. If you want to use social media advertising to grow your business, Raluca Crasuleac offers some tips to help you win big in this Right Mix Marketing post.

If you’d like to suggest your favorite small business content to be considered for an upcoming community roundup, please send your news tips to: sbtips@gmail.com.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, “10 Tips for Growing Your Business with Technology and Talent” was first published on Small Business Trends

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What is a Shared Kitchen and How is it Important to Food Entrepreneurs?

Saturday, March 30th, 2019

The Rise of the Shared Kitchen in the US Sparking Food Entrepreneurs

There’s a growing trend in the food industry that could be of major interest to new entrepreneurs and small businesses. Shared kitchens, sometimes also referred to as kitchen incubators or community kitchens, basically allow chefs, bakers, caterers or other food related professionals to split the cost of a professional kitchen space. This offers a ton of potential practical and cost benefits.

If you’re thinking about starting a food business or may be interested in utilizing this concept for your existing business, here’s what you need to know.

What Is a Shared Kitchen?

A shared kitchen is a commercial space that has been licensed, certified, and equipped for professional food production. The space is available for entrepreneurs to rent, usually through flexible plans. Basically, they’re like membership organizations for food businesses. You pay a monthly rate based on how much time you need to use the space. Some require you to sign up for a specific amount of time that stays fairly steady each month. Others allow you to be more flexible and just rent space by the hour as you need it. Regardless of the specific model you go with, you get access to the space and all of the equipment and regulatory compliance it provides. Some shared kitchens also provide complementary services for food businesses, like access to packaging resources or business training courses.

These spaces are really meant for food businesses that don’t need to deal with consumers directly at their food production location. Event caterers, wholesale bakers, packaged food sellers and even food truck vendors can all make use of this type of space. They’re not ideal for actual restaurants, since they mainly just provide the kitchen space and don’t offer extra space of accommodations for consumers to visit. However, many do offer food storage space so you don’t necessarily need to take everything with you when you leave after each visit.

Benefits of a Shared Kitchen

The most obvious benefit of this type of space is the cost savings it provides. Instead of paying high monthly rent for your own dedicated space, you get to share that cost with other food businesses. This aspect is especially beneficial for those who don’t need to use a kitchen space constantly. For example, if you’re a caterer that mainly just needs to prepare food on the weekends, it doesn’t make much sense to pay for a full month’s rent on a space you use less than half of the time.

In addition, these kitchens normally come fully stocked with equipment. So you don’t need to pay for new appliances or major kitchen tools. Of course, you’ll pay for the privilege of using these items in your monthly membership fee. But you can save yourself the trouble of buying these items.

They’re also usually built to fully comply with your area’s regulations for food vendors. All commercial kitchens need to meet specific standards for safety, cleanliness and a few other features. Learning about and meeting these standards can sometimes be complicated, especially for new entrepreneurs. So going with a shared kitchen allows you to really simplify this process.

In some states, food entrepreneurs are able to prepare foods for sale that they make at home. But those home kitchens must also meet regulatory standards. And some states like New Jersey do not allow home kitchens to operate commercially at all.

Where to Find a Shared Kitchen

Shared kitchens tend to be especially popular in busy metropolitan areas. Of course, there needs to be enough independent food businesses in the area to make running such a facility worthwhile. But it’s worth looking into even if you’re in a less populous community as well.

Most of these businesses operate regionally. So you’ll likely need to find an independent kitchen that’s located nearby. And the exact services and rates can vary widely. For example, 24-7 Shared Kitchen in Lawrenceville, Georgia offers monthly rates as low as $200. Some even offer straight hourly rates, like The City Kitch in Charlotte, North Carolina for $30 an hour. And Some offer shifts, like Hana Kitchens in New York, which has rates as low as $150 for the midnight shift.

There are also networks and services like The Food Corridor that can help you find a shared kitchen in your area that meets your needs. The NICK is the company’s network of kitchens. You can simply visit the site and enter your location to find options in your area. Then you can compare rates and features to find the option that works best for your specific business model.

The Food Corridor currently has more than 80 shared kitchens included in its network across the U.S. and Canada. And the concept appears to be growing by the year. If you’re interested in taking advantage of one of these kitchens for your business, you should be able to find something that’s at least relatively close to your area. If you can’t find something suitable online, try connecting with your local chamber of commerce or other local business organizations to see if there are opportunities that might work for you.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, “What is a Shared Kitchen and How is it Important to Food Entrepreneurs?” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Cultural Heritage tour Presented to Mark Sofia’s 140th Anniversary as Capital of Bulgaria

Saturday, March 30th, 2019

As part of the celebrations marking 140 years since Sofia was declared the capital of Bulgaria, the Culture Directorate and the team of the Historical Routes website organized a tour of part of Sofia’s cultural heritage, which is called “Behind the Facades of Sofia homes”. On 29th of March, the Sofia mayor Yordanka Fandakova was the first to pass on it, reports BNT. 

This tour was created specifically to commemorate the 140 years since Sofia was proclaimed the capital city. It starts from Levski monument, passes through St. Alexander Cathedral, the house of Burov and passes through the house of Kiro Stefanov – a famous industrialist from Sliven who lived here with his two brothers. One of them – Stefan was also Finance Minister of Bulgaria in the 1930s and contributed to the country’s economic upturn.

Anyone who wants to go on the tour can sign up for it for the dates 2, 4 and 5 April.

Yordanka Fandakova, Mayor of Sofia: This year we celebrate 140 years since Sofia was declared the capital and we would like to use this occasion to attract the attention of Sofia residents to the history of the city, to participate in the development of the city, because we a lot to be proud of.

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